Dr Catalina Taltavull

I am a post-doctoral research associate (PDRA), working under the direction of Professor T.W. Clyne in the Composite and Coatings group of the Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy of the University of Cambridge within a EPSRC Project. I have a BA degree in Technical Aeronautical Engineering in Aerospace Materials and Equipments from Universidad Politecnica de Madrid, Spain, and a MSc in structural materials for new technologies from Universidad Rey Juan Carlos and Universidad Carlos III, Spain. In 2014 I completed my phD from the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, Spain. My research was focus on the understanding of the corrosion and wear behaviour of magnesium alloys and the development of surface treatments based on laser surface melting treatments and thermal spray coatings to improve the corrosion and wear behaviour of these alloys. During my phD, I spent 4 months working in the University of Queensland, Australia, under the supervision of Professor Andrejs Atrens. To date, I have published 14 papers in JCR journals, attended to 10 international conferences and participate in 4 research projects.

My current research is focus on the effect of volcanic ash interaction with jet engines. The aim is to improve the understanding of volcanic ash attack, contributing to the development of guidelines for safe ingestion limits and propose new thermal barrier coatings (TBC) formulations that offer improved protection against such degradation.  Airborne volcanic ash (VA) can be a significant threat to the safe operation of gas turbine powered aircrafts. The 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajokull (Iceland), the 2011 eruptions of Grimsvotn (Iceland) and Cordon Caulle (Chile) have caused millions of pounds worth of damage to the airline industry worldwide. Interaction of volcanic ash with surfaces in the jet engine can cause severe malfunction, especially at high temperatures, as these particles tend to deposit on some engine parts. However, the deposition efficiency depends on the ash characteristics. We have developed a new Set-Up to determine the ash particle deposition so information concerning the significance of ash characteristics (several volcanic ashes coming from different volcano sources are being used) in determining whether deposition is likely for given engine operating conditions can be obtained. Within the jet engines, several parts such as turbine blades, are coated with a ceramic material so called thermal barrier coatings (TBCs). The main material in industrial use is yttria-stabilised zirconia (YSZ). It’s known that such ash particles, if they adhere, can be particularly deleterious to TBCs, which can then experience a reduction of its lifetime. Potential strategies to mitigate penetration of volcanic ash into the coatings include: (a) addition of solid solution elements to conventional YSZ, (b) deposition of an active functional layer and (c) developing a composite coating. This project is carrying out in collaboration with other universities and industrial partners and a consortium, PROVIDA (http://www.ccg.msm.cam.ac.uk/initiatives/provida), has been created.

During my phD, I had the opportunity to give some lectures in the Aerospace Materials Course, demostrating in different undergraduate degrees and co-demonstrate in last year research projects. Now in the University of Cambridge, I am also actively involved in teaching activities such as part III research projects and part IA, IB and II demonstrations.